Although it was hard to spend any time away from you all and the kids prior to deployment, I can't even begin to describe how grateful I am for the opportunity I was given.
Two months ago when I got the phone call that I was selected for the Joint En Route Care Course in Fort Rucker, AL with the United States Army School of Aviation Medicine I was floored. Only four individuals from the upcoming Navy deployment rotation were selected for this collateral duty....and I was one of them.
The course was to train medical providers to transport critically ill patients aboard helicopters...both to transfer between facilities in country or possibly from point of injury to the hospital. This is a joint venture between the Army (they run the rotary wing aviation gig in theater) and the other branches who provide medical care. It helped all of us (officers, enlisted, flight medics, nurses, and doctors) learn to communicate and work together in a way to best help those we are trying to save.
I learned more then I can ever put into writing...but many of the lessons had nothing to do with medicine and more to do with the things I'm about to face for the next year of my life. With new knowledge comes fear...but it allows me to better prepare mentally for the challenges ahead.
Enough of the scary stuff...onto the fun. First off I was able to meet my team...the three other people I'll be working alongside in this venture for the duration of the deployment...I may be biased but they are kinda awesome.
The boys look so serious...it's all a facade
Most importantly I was able to connect with another woman...a mom...a wife...someone who understands exactly what I'm going through right this moment and who will be going through it alongside me the entire time. Meeting Christine is probably one of the biggest reasons I was supposed to be there (pretty sure she'll kill me for saying that...OMH Chris).
I think I spent nearly every day in Alabama pinching myself for the opportunity I had been given...from water survival training...to old fashioned survival training...to a ride in a CH-47 Chinook (and placing IV's while flying)...every day was an adventure. I learned so much about aviation physiology (topped off with some personal time in the hypobaric chamber...I can last 2:38 sec at 25,000 ft without supplemental oxygen before I feel like death). I learned more about the difference between hospital medicine and battlefield medicine...it's going to be some undoing of hospital habits and the type A ICU personality I've developed in order to thrive in the fast paced environment I'm about to live in. But most importantly I gained a huge respect for every other service man and woman who is part of a MEDEVAC team.
The SWET (shallow water egress trainer) chair
They strap you in and flip you over...you gotta get out on your own...
Yeah, we built that shelter and that fire...maybe not the best but it does the job
Our ride for the day
Placing an IV while flying...no biggie
Working a simulation with my amazing medic partner (no, my patient didn't die)
I also learned that the call sign DUSTOFF assigned to the MEDEVAC units has a huge meaning...Dedicated Unhesitating Service To Our Fighting Forces. Awesome, huh? Makes me wanna step up my game even more...be the best to serve the best.
Overall one of the most amazing and humbling experiences of my life. With 3 months to go until D day I'm home and ready to complete final preparations before leaving...the reality is starting to hit. I'm leaving. For a long, long, time. But until then I'm going to enjoy it all. Every. Single. Moment.
Thank you for your endless love and support. I couldn't do it without you. I love you.